UTSA-MS Smart Imaging for Solar Photon-to-energy Conversion and Predictions for Distributed Grid Operations
Solar forecasting has been gaining a lot of attention as solar power becomes more visible in the electric grid. Solar forecasting is used as a means to help with the bidding of electricity by the utility and to help grid operators balance the power generated with the power being demanded, to name a few uses. In order to conduct intra-hour solar forecasting, a ground based image collection apparatus is usually used to gather images of the sky. While conducting intra-hour solar forecasting research with such imaging apparatus in the University of Texas at San Antonio, the opportunity to build a next generation super-resolution imager came about.
This thesis describes the construction of the UTSA-MS (Macroscope), a super-resolution sky imaging measurement system that collects and intelligently tracks sky conditions and weather patterns that can be used for intra-hour solar forecasting. The thesis includes technical discussion on the 6 systems or elements of R&D making up the imager: (1) imaging and environmental sensor data collection, (2) data processing/analytics, (3) pan and tilt sensors and controls, (4) power management, (5) sensors' wired and wireless communications and (6) support structure. It also includes the image processing algorithms written that construct a wide panorama of the whole sky. The thesis will finally show the image outputs of the UTSA-MS and compare them to image outputs from another imager (TSI).